People between the age of 18 and 29 are more likely to report problematic use of alcohol, mental distress than the other age groups.
A long-running survey has found that in the year leading up to legalization, there was a significant increase in the use of cannabis, notably among millennials and people of 50 years and older.
The survey conducted by the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction (CAMH)- called the Monitor. This survey shows the proportion of Ontario adults reporting the previous year use of marijuana increased from 15.7% in 2016 to 19.4% in 2017 which represent more than 2 million people.
A senior scientist at CAMH, Robert Mann said, “The biggest increase seemed to be among young adults 18 to 29, over the long term. So in 1996, 18.3% of people in that age group reported using cannabis in the last year. And it’s now up to 39.1% in 2017.”
Quinn Halman of Toronto is among those people who herself smoking marijuana regularly after taking her first tokes at the age of 15.
21 years old, fourth-year cultural studies major at McGill University in Montreal said that “At University, it was just that it sort of amplified. January of last year is when I really began to use it habitually every night pretty much.”
A student said straight that the smoking helps her to sleep; eases anxiety also helps her to concentrate on her studies.
Halman said that “my academic performance has never been better. I see it as something that keeps me disciplined. I know I have to get every single thing done in order for me to smoke.”
Young adults are not the only demographic demonstrating an increase in cannabis use. The survey showed that over the last two decades there has been an aging of marijuana aficionados, between 1996 and 2017, the percentage of respondents between the of 50 years and older. They reported the previous year use rose from 2% to 29%.
So why is it happening?
Mann said, “The nature of the data is such that we really can’t identify causes for any of these trends,”
However, he found that for those in particular 50 and older, there has been an increased interest in cannabis for medicinal purposes, such as to control pain.
The Monitor survey which was carried out on more than 2800 adults aged 18 and older showed that along with an increase in the users of cannabis, there was also a significant increase in people driving high.
A reported increase in mental health problems
The CAMH Monitor is a collection of survey data that allows the researchers to track long-term trends in the use of drug, alcohol and tobacco. It also allows us to identify problematic behaviors involved in mental health within the province’s population. This survey has been published every two years for almost four decades.
The 2017 iteration identified some disturbing trends, when it comes to conducting the pulse of Ontarians’ mental health status.
A senior scientist at CAMH, Monitor co-author Hayley Hamilton said, “In this report, we saw for example that the proportion of those 18 and over who are reporting fair or poor mental health increased from about seven per cent to 10.1 per cent between 2016 and 2017,”
Dr. Sanjeev Sockalingam, CAMH psychiatrist said, “These multiple indicators of problematic and high-risk behaviors occur at a time when these young people are charting their lives, finding careers and starting families. These data point to the high levels of stress during this stage in life and the importance of recognizing these risks and responding to them in a timely manner.”